SID-US Annual Conference 2022

The Journey to Inclusive Development: EnCompass Staff Attend SID-US Annual Conference 2022

Written by: Melina Benjamin, Communications, Editing, and Product Development Assistant

EnCompass was a proud sponsor and participant in this year’s SID-US Annual Conference 2022. With staff attending both in person and virtually, we were able to engage in important conversations about the journey to inclusive development and we were pleased to have our incredible talent acquisition team members on site to help share our available job opportunities at EnCompass.

The conference theme was “Inclusive Development: A Healthy, Prosperous, & Resilient Planet for All,” and USAID Administrator Samantha Power began the day with her powerful keynote highlighting the importance of shifting from development programs to development progress by diversifying partners, enabling local partner funding, and expanding the definition of development actors. We were inspired by so much we heard throughout the day, and we feel honored to be working with USAID in so many important sectors, including:

Climate and WASH

In conversations related to building inclusive climate resilience, speakers highlighted the need for local voices and local actors to lead the way. Building local capacity is a key tenet of USAID’s new climate strategy and we are thrilled to be supporting the Agency in these efforts by providing short-term and long-term technical support through our Technical, Operational, and Program Support (TOPS) institutional support contract. Elevating voices from around the world is key for EnCompass’ Global Waters CKM II team as well, as they manage GlobalWaters.org. The team regularly seeks to highlight stories and experts from around the world. The recent compilation of resources for Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 and the series of six independent ex-post evaluations show how much important work is happening in countries and through local engagement.

Technology’s Role in DEIA

During the lunch plenary, “Technology: The Great Equalizer for DEIA?,” the hybrid panel had an honest discussion on the pros and cons of technology and how it has shed light on some of the inequities that may have previously been ignored. At EnCompass, we are hopeful about the role technology can play in opening doors and providing greater access to all. In our Virtues of Virtual MEL resource, we share some of the possibilities we see for applying technology in pursuit of more participatory and inclusive MEL practices. Technology has also helped create access to learning opportunities for so many and EnCompass has been a trusted USAID partner in moving many training programs, meetings, and conferences online!

Our EnCompass Learning Center was launched with a vision of using technology to make our training programs more accessible to a wider audience from around the world. Recognizing the barriers to entry faced by those who don’t have professional development funds through their organization and those who live in countries where conversion rates make the courses too costly to consider, we immediately committed to a series of scholarship offerings through EvalYouth, Washington Evaluators, and other fora.

With context-appropriate technology, such as Google Meet and Zoom, and virtual facilitation techniques, EnCompass has worked to ensure meaningful participation that parallels face-to-face engagement and allows for individuals across geographies and communities to participate.

In addition to using technology for programs and processes, we use it for everyday deliverables as well, ensuring our products go through 508 remediation to meet the standards of accessibility that are vital to the work we do. You can refer to one of our blogs, “Global Accessibility Day 2022: Easy Ways to Improve Accessibility,” for tips on how to create digital content that is accessible for all.

Gender and Inclusion

As one of the closing plenaries, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO Alice Albright discussed her vision for the Agency, MCC’s goals and priorities as it approaches its 20th anniversary, and the new inclusion and gender strategy. EnCompass, along with our partner Mathematica, supports MCC’s inclusion and gender work through the Blanket Purchase Agreement for Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI BPA). Through this contract, we provide a range of technical assistance, including conducting GSI analyses and strengthening GSI capacity and knowledge management. The GSI BPA will strengthen women’s economic opportunities by removing barriers that prevent women from fully participating in their countries’ economies.

In addition to our work with MCC, we are proud partners to USAID and the World Food Programme in developing and delivering gender transformative program design and evaluation courses. We are particularly honored to have worked with USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment to develop the Agency-Wide Gender Learning Strategy under the ADVANTAGE IDIQ.

We are excited to be building on our gender and inclusive development work and to be supporting women’s economic empowerment efforts through our recent award of the Jordan Women’s Empowerment and Economic Leadership Activity.

As addressed in the session on “Is data sexist? Questions (and Answers) about Advancing Gender Data,” there are many gender data missing in program evaluations, leaving wide open gaps that prevent us from fully understanding the people we serve. One of our goals as a USAID partner across HQ offices and Mission platforms is to apply our deep expertise in gender and inclusive development to support more sophisticated gender integration into all the work we support.

Looking forward to next year

We left this year’s SID-US conference inspired by the many speakers and organizations represented and eager to continue supporting our many related projects and efforts that bring us closer to a more inclusive world and a healthier planet for all. We thank those who were involved in planning this year’s conference and look forward to engaging in more critical conversations at SID-US annual conferences in the years ahead.

Melina Benjamin

Communications, Editing, and Product Development Assistant

Melina Benjamin is EnCompass’ Communications, Editing, and Product Development Assistant. She supports the Communications Team’s administrative and operational functions. Additionally, through copy editing, proofreading, formatting, and layout design, Melina ensures that EnCompass’ products and technical deliverables adhere to company and client style and quality standards. Melina has experience working for Gonzaga University’s weekly student newspaper as a Staff Writer, News Editor, and Managing Editor over three years. She has also interned with USAID’s DOC team assisting with global strategic communications and training support. Melina Benjamin holds a BA in International Relations and Journalism along with a minor in Spanish from Gonzaga University. In the international development field, Melina aims to specialize in global communications, public diplomacy, and intercultural communications.

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